“Oh my God, I love your hair! It’s so cool, can I touch it?”
How many of you natural haired sistahs have gotten these comments while traveling? Or maybe I should ask if you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve heard this? And I’m guessing that by now, like me, you’re probably used to it, and know that it comes with the territory of world travel!
I’m usually approached with curiosity while on the road; whether it’s because of my peculiar accent, skin color, BagLady Basis dresses or afro tresses. And I usually welcome the curiosity, as it seems as though people genuinely appreciate seeing and conversing with someone that looks differently and is “interesting”.
As of late, my hair often seems to be the main attraction and conversation starter.
People express their fascination with my braids, or curly fro, but little do they know that over, the past couple of years, my hair has caused me great distress, especially while traveling. In fact, there’s a constant love-hate relationship between my hair and me.
I have avoided cutting my hair in short styles over the past couple of years, and as a result, my hair has become somewhat of its own person, and in turn, traveling with natural hair has now become similar to traveling with your child- one that you have to pack everything that it needs to look cute and behave in public, and when you actually go out, you pray to God that it heeds your training.
I get anxious about humidity, frizz, waking up one morning and having super crazy tangled hair that can’t be quickly fixed. Washing my hair and then my curls not working with me, or doing a braid out but the braids not drying in time! Ugh the list goes on!
I hadn't sufficient time for a little rushed maintenance, or should I say “ManeTenance” before my trip from Berlin to Paris, and so, my “natural hair struggle” tagged along with me to the “city of love”.
Even though I’d dreamed of visiting Paris one day, a trip that wasn’t in my initial travel plans. But when your super-fabulous friend invites you to come visit her in Paris, you just pack your shit and go!
This impromptu trip put me in a mini panic zone when it came to my hair. I had my B.L.B dresses, so my wardrobe was taken care of, but my hairrrrr- once again, was the only major stressor of my trip!
Paris, for me, is usually portrayed as this ultra chic city, where everyone wears black and has sleek hair, so I started wondering if my curly fro was “good enough” for my visit there, and battled back and forth with the decision to style my hair straight for this leg of my trip. Then, I remembered that was the “old” Paris- at least in my opinion and what I’ve seen on the Street Style blogs.
New Paris, like other parts of the world has really come to embrace personal style, and has made room for and given acceptance to a less sleek and chic aesthetic in their very fashionably city.
So I said, fuck it, girl do you, and took my halfway curly, halfway knotted fro for a run around Paris, and literally just let my hair go with the wind for the 4 days spent there!
I felt TOTALLY lost when I arrived in Paris as I had no clue what there was to do and see. Of course I knew that I had to visit the Eiffel Tower, but that was basically it. I didn’t have time to plan or do research.
Thankfully, after years of getting lost, my navigation skills naturally took me on interesting paths, and maybe it also had to do with the great location of my friend’s apartment, but let’s just say I ended up finding shit.
I took it easy in Paris. I just wanted to dress up in B.L.B, relax, roam the streets, and experience the city as a local. So once again, I pulled up on yet another city with no expectations, and to my surprise, I instantly fell in love with the city of love.
Highlights of my trip included, going to a super cool Parisian penthouse party, and raving at Café Barge, a riverside spot for a taste of the Paris underground party experience. Dining at Café Charlot, a street-side restaurant where editors, buyers, and fashionistas eat, meet and greet, and at Relais de l’Entrecôte, a restaurant renowned for their endless, and mouth watering steak, fries and secret sauce. Driving around at night and seeing the Eiffel Tower light up, roaming the city’s cobbled streets and meeting up with old friends.
I especially enjoyed eating and people-watching on cute sidewalk cafes and walking along the Sinenne riverbanks.
I also joined a SANDEMANs free walking city tour (like I did in Berlin). My tour guide seemed less of a tour guide and more of a great Historian and storyteller (he was a History major in college), and kept us captivated with story after story while on the 2.5-hour tour! It really brought the streets to a new light and life to me for the rest of my stay!
Paris is such a beautiful city! From the Haussmannian style buildings, cathedrals, Eiffel Tower, street art, street style, the Seine River, patisseries, guys…
Everything is just beautiful, and the narrow cobbled streets makes it possible to encounter this beauty with every step. My curly fro and I were in Paris, confident and happy!
This level of comfort touched me deeply as I haven’t always felt confident or been fond of rocking my hair in its natural state. I had worn my hair straight for many years, even though I was natural and would always say that “I’m not a natural hair chick”- it didn’t match my style.
Thankfully these are no longer my feelings and sentiments.
My views changed as the environment in China changed the quality of my hair, and the hair damage that I’ve suffered in China has forced me to reduce the amount of heat during styling.
I am now happy to say that with much practice, major frustration, and experimentation, that I truly feel the most confident while wearing my hair in its natural state. I’ve challenged myself to make my hair work with my style, and in a way it has even improved it!
Now when I travel, I not only turn heads by wearing my designs, but by confidently rocking my natural hair.
What I love most about having natural hair and rocking my curly fro is that I feel like myself- my truest self, and I know that this little impromptu trip to Paris became a big deal to me, when it came to truly owning my style in every way possible.
It’s like as I've said before, traveling with your natural hair is like traveling with your child, and like your child, you love your hair regardless and will do whatever you have to do to keep it happy and healthy- at least if you’re a good mom.